Major Pentatonic Scale Licks With A Difference
These major pentatonic scale licks and ideas will give your creative juices a boost. Techniques include sweep picking, intervallic ideas, slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs and a whole load of new ideas which you can add to your lick repertoire.
Pentatonic licks are the most commonly played sounds you will hear in most styles of guitar music, although licks are usually the standard, cliché ideas that have been around since electric guitar players began blasting out their guitar solos.
By learning and analysing the licks in this post, you will open up huge possibilities for new ideas and fretboard covering awesome sounds.
What Is A Pentatonic Scale?
A pentatonic scale is a scale that contains five notes. Any five notes from the octave can be chosen, although the two pentatonic scales you will hear guitarists use the most are the major pentatonic scale and the minor pentatonic scale.
If you remove the 4th and 7th degrees of the major scale, you will have the major pentatonic scale. The major pentatonic scale, therefore, contains the following intervals:
1 2 3 5 6
This scale is easy to use. Part of the reason is due to the notes that the scale does not contain.
The interval between the missing 4th and 7th notes of the major scale is a b5th interval, also known as a tritone.
The tritone creates tension. In the key of C major, for example, the 4th note is F and the 7th note is B. These two notes are the 3rd and b7th of G7, which is the v7 chord in the key of C major.
The v7 chord in a key is the chord that is used to create tension as it wants to resolve to the i chord. Remove these notes from the scale and the tension disappears, leaving you with an easy-to-use, tension-free sound that adds much happiness to your guitar playing
Two Scales For The Price Of One
Any C major pentatonic scale lick or idea can also be used whenever an A minor pentatonic scale is being used. The two scales share the same notes.
The licks shown below are played over major chords and I was hearing major sounds when I recorded the licks. The notes are the same, but you need to shift your hearing focus when using these, or any other major pentatonic scale licks as a substitute for minor ideas.
To truly understand what is going on with these, and all the other licks shown in these blog posts, I have a free, weekly newsletter that breaks down the licks for you. The licks are analysed so you understand how they were created and how to use them, and extra playing tips and tricks are included.
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C Major Pentatonic Scale Sweep Lick
As with most major pentatonic scale guitar licks, this is a very jolly-sounding lick.
The lick requires quite a bit of sweep picking in both directions. Sweep picking across small groups of strings and all 6 strings will give you a great right-hand workout.
This lick also includes some nice wide intervallic playing which creates an open and interesting sound.
Remember that any C major pentatonic lick can also be used any time an A minor pentatonic scale is needed.
C Major Pentatonic 10 Note Sequence
More sweep picking is required for this lick, although fewer strings are covered than in the previous example.
Make sure you understand the pattern used in this lick when ascending the guitar fretboard and extend the idea into more positions.
This melodic sequence can easily be used on any scale with a bit of manipulation. Make sure you experiment with other scales and try to come up with variations of your own.
C Major Pentatonic Scale Unison Lick
Traditional pentatonic unison licks use string bends. I came up with this idea when playing acoustic guitar as string bends are not as easy having thicker strings on an acoustic guitar and also a wound G string.
This lick requires a bit of left-hand stretching, so pay attention to the sound of the notes and make sure they are fretted correctly. This lick could easily sound like a mess if the notes are not fretted accurately.
Be sure to try this idea on an acoustic guitar if you have one. It is a great way to mimic standard string bend licks without trying to bend acoustic guitar strings.
Free Ear Training Course
Another free guitar learning tool for you. My ear training mini-course easily trains your ears to hear all intervals, which is the essential building block of any ear training work that every musician must include in their practice routine.
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